Integrating Positive Psychology Into Legal Education

Southwestern Law Review Vol. 48 (2019)

33 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2021

Date Written: 2019


Positive psychology has emerged over the last twenty years as a field of study in which psychologists began to study the life well lived with the same scientific rigor they brought to helping people with mental dysfunction. Several foundational themes have emerged as the field has grown: we should seek to learn from what is going right as well as what is going wrong, and, as the late psychologist Christopher Peterson put it, we should seek to understand how “other people matter.

For the last two years, Suffolk University Law School has hosted a national conference titled Integrating Positive Psychology into Legal (the “Conferences”). The Conferences brought together about two dozen law professors, administrators, psychologists, consultants, and practicing lawyers, (See the Appendix for a list of Conference participants.) Together, we reflected on how insights from positive psychology might also aid law student success during law school and continue upon entering the legal profession. The purpose of both Conferences and this article is to address (1) some of the issues unique to law students and lawyers, and (2) specific actions law school administrators and professors can take to help students succeed.

It is important to clarify at the outset that some of the ideas that emerged from the Conferences and discussed herein are based in controlled research, others from participant experience, and still others from simply reporting what seems to work for the participants with their students. The Conferences therefore represent the beginning rather than the conclusion of an inquiry on how to best integrate the insights of positive psychology into legal education.

The format for the Conferences involved asking participants to make short presentations supplemented by written material that might be helpful to legal educators or their students. The Conference participants, the subjects of their presentations, and the materials prepared for the Conference (or published elsewhere and made available by the speakers at the Conference), can be found in an Appendix at the end of this article. Links to those materials are also available for each participant as well as their credentials and contact information. Readers interested in learning more about a specific idea or theme are encouraged to reach out to the participants directly and read their materials, as participants were asked to write something brief to encourage readership, especially among law students.

This article summarizes some of the insights from the Conferences with the hope that they may be useful to legal educators and their law students, recognizing that this summary can be only an introduction. The Appendix below indicates a wealth of topics and ideas, so this article organizes the conference presentations around some of the positive aspects of legal education, but with an understanding that positive psychology can complement it to make that professional education more effective.

Suggested Citation

Baker, R. Lisle, Integrating Positive Psychology Into Legal Education (2019). Southwestern Law Review Vol. 48 (2019), Available at SSRN:

R. Lisle Baker (Contact Author)

Suffolk University Law School ( email )

120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108-4977
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics